ONE of Scotland’s most popular family tourist attractions has warned it will run out of cash if it can’t reopen this summer.

Deep Sea World, in North Queensferry, Fife, has told MSPs it has had no income since it closed in the coronavirus lockdown in March and still faces considerable costs in feeding and looking after the fish and other marine creatures, including seals and amphibians.

Adrian Duffey, general manager of Deep Sea World, highlighted the situation the aquarium faces in a letter to a Holyrood committee which has launched an investigation into the impact of the pandemic on tourism. With the likelihood that aquariums and visitor attractions are amongst the last to reopen, we are extremely concerned about missing the main season and having restricted funds to go into the lean winter period,” he said.

“Additionally, when we are in a position to reopen it is likely that our potential visitors may be cautious and social distancing restrictions will restrict our capacities putting pressure on our ability to recover.”

He added: “[The] costs of running the business are not inconsiderable and amounted to over £90k in April 2019. With the assistance of cost cutting and use of the available government schemes, the business made an operating loss of over £27k in April 2020 with no visitors. If we are not permitted to reopen in June and July, how will we be supported through the winter to get us through to Easter 2021? Cash will run out.”

Duffey called for more assistance from the Scottish Government – and highlighted a fund launched by Defra in England to support zoos and aquarium. He also drew attention to work being undertaken by the Australian government for a fund to help zoos and aquariums cover the cost of feeding and housing animals during the pandemic.

He added: “Stocks are running low with suppliers, but how can we commit to purchasing such items when we don’t even know what the road map to opening will be and whether this will be needed or sufficient?

“We have operated with no financial assistance of any sort since opening in 1993 and have contributed greatly to the visitor economy as well as the education of many, many children in Scotland. The moment is here when we need some assistance.”

Duffey said some staff had been put on furlough and the attraction was considering applying for a loan under the UK business support scheme.

He was also concerned that changes announced to the furlough scheme from July would mean the business would have to contribute to furloughed staffs’ salaries while closed.

Holyrood’s culture and tourism committee will take evidence today.